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Faculty Focus

Frank Lewis

Moncrief-O’Donnell Endowed Chair, Professor, College of Engineering, UTARI

Frank Lewis

At this point, Frank Lewis—now in his 29th year with UTA—is something of a legend as he continues to make an impact not only on the University, but also the field of electrical engineering as a whole. An expert in automatic feedback control systems, he uses mathematics as a unifying language to bring together ideas from different disciplines and design better algorithms for feedback control. It’s the sort of work that has applications across many systems—aircraft autopilots, robot motion control, car engine control, coordination of unmanned aerial vehicles, and more—and aligns with UTA’s strategic focus on excellence in teaching and research.

“I always want to find similarities in ideas that seem different,” Dr. Lewis says. “Finding new ways in which seemingly different ideas can fit together gives new basic notions and approaches that result in new, improved design methods for automatic feedback control systems.”

What past accomplishment makes you proudest?

Discovery and innovation. For instance, we found out how to use neural networks and reinforcement learning techniques from computational intelligence to extend the capabilities of adaptive feedback control systems. Our ideas led to more accurate controllers that are implemented on the Boeing Phantom Ray autonomous aircraft and have been used to improve the fuel efficiency and reduce pollution in automobile engines for Ford and GM. I have also had 50 PhD students, and they are top researchers, award winners, industry leaders, and university presidents and provosts.

What are you excited about right now?

Currently, I am interested in different sorts of multi-agent interaction games being studied in computer science and how I can use those ideas in automatic decision and control for multiple interacting dynamical systems. I am also interested in the way the human brain works in processing environmental queues and changing human behavior over time in response to different situations.

What are you most looking forward to?

Every day I look forward to coming to my office at UTARI and working to get new ideas to bring together and extend known results. I look forward to talking with my students—they always have new ideas and are a source of enthusiasm.


  • Ranked at position 84 worldwide, 64 in the U.S., and 3 in Texas of all scientists in computer science and electronics, by Guide2Research (October 2018)
  • Thomson Reuters Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher (2018)
  • John Ragazzini Education Award 2018 for writing textbooks, PhD student mentoring, and international leadership, from American
  • Automatic Control Council
  • Liaoning Province International Science and Technology Cooperation Award (2017)
  • Liaoning China Friendship Award (2017)
  • Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2017-18)
  • Appointed Guest Consulting Professor, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (2016-2019)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2016)

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